Denise's NeedleWorks

Denise's Needleworks

Location: Ames, Iowa, United States

I am wife to Jeff, homeschool mom to 8, a knit and crochet teacher and totally addicted to knitting, crocheting and other fiber arts. After knitting, crocheting and sewing my own clothing from the age of 10 on, I studied textiles & clothing in college. That lead me to 25 years of custom dressmaking and alterations work, while sewing, knitting and crocheting for my growing children. I have worked in the yarn industry for the past 3 years and have been designing my own knitting patterns. Visit my web site at Find me as DeniseInIowa on

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Fall Cables Cardigan

Knit Simple magazine gave their Fall cover sweater a very unimaginative name--Woman's Cardigan. It is such a beautiful cabled sweater that I am going to call it the Fall Cables Cardigan. I am even using a fall color. It is called Persimmon and is kind of a burnt orange color.

I have the first sleeve almost finished and I started the back. The sleeve is knit in the round. I was going to try to make the body all in one piece too but my brain just couldn't wrap around how to do the all-over cables with shaping at the side seams.

There are 9 cables across the back alone. I think by the time I cross that many cables every 8th row I will have gone a little mad anyway.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The importance of gauge

Now, you would think, that after the Streakers Shrug I would know to check gauge first.

I started the tote bag from Knitters with the quilt-look star last night during my class. I picked up needles in the size that the pattern called for and just started knitting. After I got home I thought to measure the first square that I had. Way too small! I think I need to go up a needle size or two.

So today I was wanting to get started on my cabled sweater. I cast on 45 stitches for a swatch so I could really get a good measurement. Perfect! I was right on! Now I can get started and know it should come out the right size.


Baby caps

My goal was to get at least 6 caps ready to mail this week. Cap number six was finished but my 4yo came along and decided that he needed a hat for his dolly. So here she is modeling one of the baby caps. I think I need to make another one now!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Baby Caps for Caps to the Capital

I think I will have a nice package to send soon. I started the dark red cap on Friday, then cast on the orange one right away. They took so little time and they are so cute!

I crocheted 2 more caps over the weekend and then last night a third one. I wanted to see just how much time it took me to crochet a cap so I timed it last night. Thirty minutes! Such a little bit of time to help save a newborn!

I do have to point out that these are very small. I included a pencil so you could get an idea of their size. These caps would fit on an orange! They are made for very small babies, often premies. Of my 8 children I am not sure even one of them would have fit into these caps. My smallest baby was over 8 pounds and most of them were 10+.

Babies have a very special place in my heart. I hope that these caps can make a difference in their lives.


What I knit with the Mohair

I tried all sorts of things with this yarn. It is super fine so I tried the suggested size 6 needles first. It make the fuzz stick out and feel like a porcupine! That was not going to make a scarf feel good!

Next I tried to start the Perfect Pie Shawl from Weekend Knitting. Too hard to see what I am doing with all of that short-row lace knitting! I would have to knit the whole thing in one sitting or I wouldn't know where I was when I picked it up again.

So I went to my much used basic pattern the Quick and Easy Shawlette I am using size 11 needles so it is going quick. The big size really opens up the stitches, which is making the mohair feel really soft. I am planning to make it big enough to tie over a sweater, dress or coat for this winter.

I will need all the warm, cozy things I can get for winter here.


A Bit of Bragging

I just have to do a little bit of bragging on my daughters who knit. This is the most recent creation by Rosie, my 9yo. She used my I-cord maker and some baby yarn for a purse. The body of the purse has rows of I-cord sewn together . They loop back and forth to make a scalloped edge. Rosie has made lots of scarves and has no fear of frogging.

Amy, my 13yo, has made lots of knitted and crocheted items. She has often helped me with chemo caps and afghan blocks. Here are a scarf, headbands and wristwarmers that she made recently. She used my Very Basic Wrist Warmers pattern. Free on my web site.

My 4yo also loves to knit. He and I work together. He throws the yarn while I work the needles or he will work the needles and I throw the yarn for him. He is working on a scarf for a baby girl that we took care of for a while. He is such a cutie.

I think I taught 7 of the 8 kids how to knit at some time. Somehow the 16 yo missed out. I keep offering to teach him but he keeps saying no. Someday he may wish he knew how to knit! My oldest 2 boys don't knit any more but of the 2 oldest girls, one knits and the other crochets yet. It is nice to see another generation carry on the crafts!


Saturday, October 21, 2006

A Moment of Silence

For my rendition of the Streaker's Shrug..... (Interweave Knits, Spring 06).

The only picture I have of it is when it was only a little thing. I knit and knit and knit some more. It went on vacation with us. I knit some more....It grew and grew until.... when I tried it on before starting the had grown to mamouth proportions! Now I am not a tiny person at 5'10", but this was really too much.

Imagine...the ribbing hanging halfway down my thighs...the sleeves to my fingertips....and that was before adding 6" lace cuffs on each sleeve!

No way, no how was it going to fit.

I punished it by putting it in a bag and tossing it in the corner. That was a couple of months ago at least. I pulled the needle out the other day because I needed it for another project. Today I decided it was time.......

I started pulling it apart. It was knit with 2 strands of yarn so I got out the ball winder to wind one and started hand winding the other strand. Then DH was sitting there watching and I got him involved....20 minutes later we were still at it. Our 4yo came by to see what we were doing and he started helping pull it apart....then our 9yo was drafted to turn the crank on the ball winder. It took well over an hour from start to finish.

I still really like this pattern and the yarn combination that I was using was just what I wanted. Better do more swatching though and check the finished measurements again!!


Friday, October 20, 2006

Caps to the Capital

Brenda Stratton at Annie's Attic posted a special request from Caps to
the Capital
. They would like people to send their caps in as soon as they can
instead of waiting until the deadline. They are trying to record them as they come in and they have a map up with the number of caps sent from each state if you are interested. I was really disappointed to see that only 8 caps had been sent from Iowa!

I hadn't had time to work on any caps yet so today after I spent some time finishing up a couple of projects I cast on to knit my first cap using one of the patterns at Save the Children. I finished that one this afternoon and I am almost finished with a second cap! These caps are so tiny and cute! I think I may try the crochet pattern too and see how many I can get made up to send. At this rate I should be able to stuff an envelope to send off next week.

Just a little thing I can do to help make the world a better place!


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

My next challenge

I got some yarns for this tote tonight after my class. I love to quilt as well as knit so this tote caught my eye immediately. It is from Knitters-Fall 2006. There are so many projects in this issue of Knitters that I really would like to try. It was hard to choose.

I picked out Nature Spun Worsted in the colors, Roasted Coffee, French Clay and Sunburst Gold. They are rich fall colors.

The bag is made sort of like the garterlac dishcloth. It is all in garter stitch but each square and triangle is done with picked up stitches and short rows. I think I should teach myself how to knit backwards!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Lace Pelerine (poncho)

I finally have enough of my lace pelerine knit to show it off. This is from Elizabeth Zimmerman's pattern with a lace design that I found on the Knit Baby Surprise list. There are 4 panels like this with increases between.

The yarn is the dyeable worsted from Knitpicks. It is really soft, yummy yarn. I am using a 16" long size 10 needle but I need to change to a longer circular soon. This one is getting rather crowded!

My class starts on Tuesday night. I will be teaching how to make the simple stockinette version but I really wanted to show them some other options. I think I have a good start on this to show them what it can do. This is such a versatile pattern.


Red scarf finished

I finished my first scarf for the Red Scarf Project. It is made from one ball of Bernat Softee Chunky on size 13 needles. I made up my own design, just a little something for variety. I am not sure if you can see it clearly in this photo. Red never photographs well for me.

I have already cast on for my second scarf. I bought 2 balls of this yarn thinking that it would take more than one for each scarf. It only took one for the first scarf so now I can make 2 of them before finding more yarn!


Friday, October 13, 2006

Busy, Busy Week!

My sewing class is winding down. This week we worked on a patchwork drawstring bag. The kids are great to work with. I have had fun with the class but, alas, next week we have our last class.

It will be nice to have the extra time for other projects though too. I have been trying to finish up some projects this week too. I almost have Carl's Baby Surprise Jacket finished. The knitting is finished and I started by crocheting the cuffs together across the top. I really need to sit down with it and finish the seaming so he can wear it. We have been having freezing temps at night already and the days are not warming up much over that.

I am also working on a scarf for the Red Scarf Project One of my yarn groups is collecting them for a charity challenge. I love to help out when I can.

I had only one student for my first Christmas Stocking class this week. Must be too early for people to start thinking of Christmas. On the other hand if you don't start early it won't get done in time. Ask me how I know that one?! We had a great time though.

I picked up some very fine Kid Mohair yarn while I was there and just started playing with it. It is verigated with some beautiful colors. Originally I thought about trying it for a Pelerine but I wasn't sure how round all of that fuzziness would make me look. I think I will make a simple garter stitch scarf with this ball to see how it behaves. What is this kind of yarn best suited for?

The Pelerine class starts next Tuesday. So far, there is no one signed up for this class either. There have been people asking for a poncho class, so where are they? Oh, well, that's the way it goes sometimes. One of the women who works in the shop might take it so we can brainstorm about classes for next month/year. I started another Pelerine in a natural color wool, using a simple lace design. It is coming out very nicely. I will try to get a photo up soon.

The weather has changed so much here that we are all wishing for more warm sweaters. It really has me wanting to cast on for some. I have the yarn for a couple of patterns that I would like to try but I really, really need to finish up some of the other projects that I have OTNs before I start something more. Half-finished sweaters still in the tote bag are not very warm!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sewing class quilt

I just had to show you what my homeschool sewing class is working on. I have 2 groups of homeschool kids. The Tuesday group has about 14 kids 5th to 11th grades. The Thursday group has about 8 kids 5th to 7th grades. They are great kids!

We had them embroider the letters of the alphabet on some pastel fabric blocks. Then I trimmed them and added sashing to each block. We found a cute alphabet fabric with pastel letters to match.

The kids quilted around the letter blocks through the batting and backing this week. Now I am attaching the blocks to each other (Lap Quilting style) as I get the finished ones.

The quilt will go to Birthright here in town. The kids are very excited about having helped with this quilt.

Big pile of knitting and crochet

With the exception of the scarf that it still on the needles, these things all went to the church for the youth auction. There are 2 baby sweaters, a Christmas stocking, crochet Fat-Bottom Bag and coordinating hat, crochet boy beanie and ear-flap hats, and underneath is a black/fleck garter cuff hat and a garter stitch scarf to match.

I kept working along and thinking of more ideas as I went. I thought maybe I didn't have much to contribute so I also put in a certificate for a "Knitting Party": I will supply the needles and yarn for the host/hostess and 4 friends to learn how to knit. Now that should be lots of fun!

Finished Baby Surprise Jackets

I have been on a roll lately with these little sweaters. I finished these 2 newborn size sweaters up for our youth fundraiser auction. They were on display this morning between church services. I think they came out really cute.

I need to make another one now that I think about it. My cousin's daughter and husband are expecting their first baby in March.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

My sock knitting journey

I am a long time knitter. I learned when I was about 7, put it away for a while and re-taught myself when I was around 10. Now, I have accumulated more than 40 years of knitting and I have learned many new techniques but for the longest time trying to knit with double pointed needles totally alluded me!

When we were first married some 28+ years ago I decided to make hubby a pair of wool socks. That was when we still had a couple of good yarn stores available downtown. I got needles, pattern book and yarn and set to it. Well, let me tell you I was knitting very loosley and those size 2 metal needles had a nasty habit of falling out of those stitches at the least provocation! I am sorry to say that I didn't manage more than a couple of rows before I was totally fed up!

Well along came children and I was knitting more and more for them and (now this is years and years later-we have 8 children and they didn't all come at once) I thought I should try some baby socks. I think I got a little farther this time but man oh man do I hate those tiny metal needles!

Then came Cat Bordhi and Socks Soar and I thought, "Hmmm, maybe I can do this!?" I started yet another sock in January of 2005. It was going to be the "Year of the Sock." Um...well...I uh... wasn't getting along so well with all of those dangly things either.

Then my 8 year old had to be in the hospital. I finished the sweater that I was knitting and the only thing I had along was that sock, but I had thrown in a set of plastic double pointed needles that I had recently found too. since I wasn't liking all of the twisting and dangling of the circulars I decided to try to dpns again. Wow! I was amazed! When the needles don't fall out all the time you can actually knit with those things! I was off.

I had found a really basic pattern on my ball of yarn and some web sites as I went along and I finally taught myself how to knit socks!!

They are a really cheap acrylic sock yarn. Hey, I didn't want to spend too much on something that might not every happen! As for the fit, well they look pretty good here...they are really big though. So...I decided the next pair needed to be much smaller...ta da!

Socks that fit my 11 year old daughter! Hmmm, maybe something in-between?

Well since then I have made close to 2 dozen pair of socks/slipper socks and Christmas Stockings. I guess 2005 really did become the "year of the sock" for me. I have taught myself how to use those circular needles...both 2 circulars and Magic Loop methods. I even taught a class how to make socks and this month I start a Christmas Stockings class!

I love turning the flap heel. I have even gotten to the point of not needing directions. And I have learned that with a star toe you don't have to graft the stitches. Now I always have socks on the needles so I have a small project to take along with me!

Oh, and my favorite method is still those darned double pointed needles...but now they are bamboo.


Breast Cancer Awareness Month

As I am sure many of you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I just found out the other day that a cousin of mine was diagnosed with a serious breast cancer so this is hitting rather close to home. I pray that she and the many others who are suffering with this disease will find hope and a cure. Think Pink!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Web site is up!!

We got my web site up today. I am so excited! It is a work in progress yet but we do have the class list on there already. I have some patterns that will go up soon and we are working on all sorts of other things too. Take a look!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Soctoberfest has started!

So, did YOU celebrate socks today?

I have only managed to take a photo of the sock that I started on April 4th of last year. The weather got warm soon after I started it so it was put in the inactive file. But the weather is starting to cool off and I will need more socks soon. I would really like to get this pair finished so I can make a pair from this beautiful new yarn that just arrived.

It is Wildfoote Luxury Sock yarn from Brown Sheep. The color is a beautiful tweedy lavendar. Most of my socks have been knit in the self patterning yarns so they are usually a basic stockinette. I would like to try something else with this yarn so it will really show itself off!

I will have to look through some patterns and see if I can figure out what kind of sock this yarn wants to be. With a name like Wildfoote the possibilities look very interesting!

The finished Pelerine

This is the finished Pelerine from Elizabeth Zimmerman's pattern. I used Simply Soft Shadows yarn. It made a such a soft, pretty poncho. I like the way this pattern fits too. You don't think much about a poncho "fitting" but this one looks very nice.

I would like to make a lace version of this one next. I have some natural worsted weight wool that I think would be very elegant. Is that a word that you would use to describe a poncho?